Friday, August 19, 2011

The Beauty and the Rage

Someone wrote me an e-mail recently, asking for more playable creatures. The Darwandir is what came out from that request. With humanoid creatures I find myself writing longer than average descriptions. There is suddenly a wider cultural aspect to address, and I get the feeling I could write several pages about them, perhaps even books. In this context I try to focus on the features that mainly seperate them from human beings, and then just briefly touch some other areas of interest... which leaves some creative blanks for the Game Master. If I ever feel like writing more about any of these creatures I might add very short short-stories to the blog (just and idea I had). Also, if any of you guys ever write any texts, related to these creatures (in an rpg-context, for example), or have suggestions or ideas that might broaden (or perhaps even be a variation on) the initial information, feel free to send them to me, and I will consider adding them below the original creature description, together with your name, and a link to your website (if you want to). I would still love to see more interactivity here. This is the 45th creature btw, and 45 is a magic number. I'll tell you why next time. Until then, go dance with the charming Darwa'an.


CATEGORY: Two-legged Mammal
TERRAIN: Forests, mountains (any)
FOOD: Omnivore
AGGRESSION: Normal (to high)
SIZE: 6’ 5” - 8’ 1” (195-245 cm) tall
NUMBERS: Up to hundreds

CHARM: 3-15
(If stats of humans range from 3 to 18)

SPEED: Running x 1,3, Swimming x 1,2, Climbing x 2)
(Multiple is times human speed)

(Ranges from 0-100)

(If a human commoner has about 11 hit points)

AVERAGE: 1 (3)
BODY: 1 (3)

The skin of the Darwandir is more resilient than human skin, and will turn harder still when the creatures throw themselves into action (see 'Powers')

2 FISTS: 1-4
2 KICKS: 1-6
(If a Long Sword causes 1-8 points of damage)

The legs and arms of the Darwandir are long and powerful. They can deal out bone-breaking punches and kicks, and will fight unarmed if required, even when facing armored enemies.

HARDEN SKIN: When the Darwandir go into battle their skin hardens to protect them from harm. With adrenaline rushing their joints and muscles stay flexible, while the outer layers turn tough and wood-like. This cellular change is quick and swiftly subsides as the creatures calm down again. The color of their skin shifts a bit when it hardens, towards gray, brown, or green, and may turn dappled, and textured, like the surface of bark.

FINAL RAGE: In a situation where the Darwandir find themselves outnumbered, betrayed, or otherwise near death, they can decide to summon the full power of the inner rage. At such times their entire biology and character transform into a vessel of elemental fury. They quickly darken into the blackest wood, and their horn-like outgrowth lengthen. In their eyes flash the chaos and power of an untamed world, where lightning and violent storms raise the seas and whip mountains into sand and earth. The crude power of the past soars up from their soul and into the living flesh of their current being. This causes a +10 bonus to Strength (and +3 to all damage rolls), + 5 to all attack rolls, and adds 15 to their Magic Power. If the Darwandir still lives when the danger is over, they can never return to their previous selves. They lose all bonuses, but their nature is morphed into a dark sort of beast, with little or no memories of its previous existence. Tired and confused they usually escape far into the deep woods. There they merge with the trees, or join up with orcs or other creatures more similar to their new nature. Needless to say, the Darwandir do not use this power unless they expect to perish.

Savages with a taste for elegance. That’s what many see when they look at the Darwandir. Tall and graceful, yet with a core of primordial wilderness – a raw essence, that despite the ornaments of culture, howls in unison with the beasts at night.

The Darwandir adore the feast and the dance, but have no desire for the comforts of the city. They are drawn to the arts and the wisdom of the sages, but care little for novelties, and require no empires. Like ancient gypsies, rooted in the soil of the past, they intermingle with modern cultures. Though socially apt, they are restless when far from home. Among the highest of trees they build their huts, but some carve halls in the deep mountains.

They are children of the earth, sprung from the roots of the first trees. Inside of them, the elemental forces have not yet settled. Their skins and muscles must always move, or their bodies will stiffen and turn back into wood. An hour of stillness is all they can endure, before the earth calls them back, and draws them into a state of eternal petrification. Void of sleep and dreams they walk beneath the stars, singing songs of moons and magic.

The Darwandir live in matriarchal tribes. The females are a full foot (30 cm) taller than the males. The men are wilder, but receive no training in the arts and sciences. Most are hunters or warriors, while the women govern the social and political affairs. All Darwandir tribe-leaders, druids, sages, and magicians are female, and most prominent fighters too. These constitute an elite in the Darwandir societies and are called the Darwa’an. The largest tribes are about 500 strong, but many Darwa’an meet up with the elite of other tribes to learn from one another.

A Darwandir must learn at a young age to tame the wilderness within. Even adults regularly fight to harness the ancient rage, forever present in the depth of them. There is no inherent evil to this inner power, but an uncultured directness, that will not succumb to reflection. It screams for absolute freedom and to tear through every obstacle without thought, and without conscience. There are within all Darwandir tribes those who would have it otherwise, and who wishes to celebrate and unleash the dark rage in all of them. The Darwa’an do their best to keep such forces subdued and pacified. The elders teach that the Wild One within serves them well with energy and strength, but unfettered it would destroy them, and turn them into something degraded and demonic.

Managing this yearning is a great part of Darwandir upbringing and education. When a Darwandir loses temper it can be seen not only in the eyes but in their entire appearance. They seem possessed and may mom-entarily turn bestial in their choice of words and actions. In Darwanidir societies this is part of daily life, and dealt with, but in other cultures, these sudden displays of primoridal rage are not always well handled. Most Darwandir quickly return to their normal selves, and make sure to resolve the situation, as well as they can.

Music and food are great sources of pleasure for the Darwandir. Most play some instrument or sing. They keep no pets, and use no steeds or beasts of burden. The Darwanir loath bows, crossbows, and javelins, and will not even throw their daggers. When the time comes to fight they do so face to face with their enemies in a dance of dirt, sweat, and blood. They never wear shoes or boots, and dress light even in the winter. Some wear armor of leather, scales, or horn, but shields, helmets, and suits of steel are extremely rare.

The Darwandir worship the heavenly bodies and various spirits of the earth,. Their magic is based around songs weaved in the forlorn past, and they have great knowledge about all things that grow. They all have black hair, live for 200-300 years, and don’t care much for swimming.

(Check out more creatures in the 'Creature Archive' menu to the left.)

© Copyright 2011 - Nicholas Cloister